The Senate wrapped up their version of the Fiscal Year 2013 budget about 2:30am this morning.  Thanks to the work of many of our grassroots members, NOT included in the budget is the $50 million federal grant for the “Medicaid Computer Upgrade.” This grant included laying the groundwork for the implementation of the Obamacare Insurance Exchange. The so-called “gang of 9” worked to stop it and several other items in the budget.

The budget process in the Senate did not take the traditional path. Senate tradition is that what comes out of the Appropriations Committee represents 99.9% of what the Senate passes back to the House. Then the Senate and House convene conference committees to work out the differences between the versions passed by each body. It didn’t quite work that way this year.

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed out budget bills that caused a number of problems with several senators.  We sent out an Action Alert (Urgent Action Required: Eliminate Obamacare Insurance Exchange Budget Funding!) regarding a line item that contained $50 million in federal grant funds that would include laying the groundwork for the Obamacare Insurance Exchange (Federal Grant Documents h/t Representative Ryan Silvey, House Budget Chair).  Grassroots activists from all across the state responded, and the “political heat” was acknowledged during the discussion of the issue!

Grassroots participation can have an impact!

A group of senators who were not satisfied with the status quo represented by the Senate Appropriations Committee bill versions coalesced and presented the Appropriations Chair a list of items that had to be addressed in order to avoid an unheard of filibuster on the budget. This list included the $50 million federal grant.

After several days of discussion and negotiations, the Senate Appropriations Chair drafted new versions of the budget and placed them into Senate Substitutes. These substitutes represented significant changes to the bills including the elimination of the $50 million line item! 

As you might imagine, there were some ruffled feathers over this “new” process. Near the beginning of the budget discussion last night, one senator derisively called the senators who sought these changes the “gang of 9.” I’m pretty sure most if not all of the senators involved wear that name with some pride.

I don’t agree with all the changes the “gang of 9”  supported, but overall they were trying to set the tone for future budgets – significantly reduce the dependency on the use of one-time funds to balance the budget! It’s a good message. You can let the “gang of 9” know you appreciate their efforts in supporting elimination of the $50 million federal grant by clicking here.

Thanks to all of you who weighed in with your Senator.  Without your action the gang of 9 would not have had the support to accomplish the task.

Sometimes you win some, and sometimes you lose some. This was a big win!

Never underestimate the impact you can have by responding to an Action Alert. You can make all the difference!

Thank you!